Mayor Walsh Says the State of the City is Growing
Published on January 18, 2024
A full transcript with video coverage and a photo gallery is available here.
In 2024 State of the City address at revitalized City Center in downtown Syracuse, Walsh says the city is again “center of growth” of the region
Mayor announces ambitious “Housing Promise” for 2,500 units of new housing in two years
Walsh unveils proposals for Syracuse’s first high-rise apartment building and lifestyle planned community
For his 2024 State of the City address, Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh returned to the place he introduced the Syracuse Surge, the strategy that’s helped drive a local and regional economic resurgence. Speaking from the newly revitalized City Center in downtown Syracuse, Walsh reported the state of the city is growing and said Syracuse is again the center of growth for the region.
“Syracuse is growing in ways that are generating energy, confidence and hope for the future. Growing in ways that are creating opportunity for those who have previously been left behind. Growing in ways that a vibrant and successful region must have at its center,” Walsh said. “City government didn’t do this alone. The people of this community contributed to our progress.”
Walsh’s seventh State of the City speech outlined progress, challenges and new programs in public safety, neighborhoods, education, lead hazard mitigation, parks, roads, sidewalks, city services, and Syracuse’s fiscal condition. Housing and neighborhoods comprised the largest portion of the Mayor’s 50-minute speech.
Walsh Makes “Housing Promise”
Walsh introduced a new “Housing Promise,” a pledge to have an additional 2,500 units of housing completed or underway in Syracuse before he leaves office in 2025. The Mayor reported on progress and next steps in affordable new home construction under his Resurgent Neighborhoods Initiative. He also provided updates on major large affordable and mixed income housing projects including the East Adams Neighborhood Transformation on the south side, Eastwood Heights in Eastwood, the old Syracuse Developmental Center site on the west side, and the former Maria Regina campus on the north side.
Walsh unveiled two new proposals for large scale housing projects that he said the Community Grid project and ReZone Syracuse, the city’s new zoning code, are helping make possible:
High Rise Apartment Building - Preparing for the removal of the Interstate 81 viaduct on Almond Street, a Syracuse developer with a track record of success in the East Genesee Street corridor is proposing to build a 14-story high-rise apartment building on Almond Street at the corner of East Fayette Street. The project would add 300 mixed income housing units with commercial space on the first floor.
Lifestyle Planned Community - In anticipation of Micron’s investment in the region, a new developer to Syracuse is proposing to build a lifestyle planned community at the dormant and overgrown former Lafayette Country Club at the southeast end of the city. The first phase of the project, 270 units of single-family homes and duplex style townhomes, would be built in the city.
“I don’t believe any Common Council and Administration have made more progress to improve housing conditions than we have in the past six years. During that time, the number of vacant properties citywide has decreased by 33%, from 1,650 down to just over 1,000. Unfortunately, it’s still not nearly enough,” Walsh said.
To address the city’s continuing housing needs, the Mayor also reported on the findings of the Syracuse Housing Study, a comprehensive review of Syracuse’s neighborhoods and housing stock completed in 2023. He also reported the second phase of the project, the Syracuse Housing Strategy, is underway. The next public meetings for community input will take place in April.
Despite progress occurring, Walsh’s address emphasized more must be done to assist people in the community who continue to need support and assistance.
“Most critical is the scourge of poverty that afflicts too many children, families and individuals in our city,” Walsh said. “Virtually all our efforts are strategically aligned to create opportunity and lift people up.”
Other State of the City 2024 Announcements
Walsh announced multiple new programs and initiatives:
Free Public Wi-Fi – Syracuse’s largest and most active city parks will be equipped with free public Wi-Fi. The addition builds on Wi-Fi access currently available at five city community centers in the city and at City Hall and One Park Place.
Veterans Programs – Syracuse will become a Purple Heart City to honor all those who served in combat. It will start a Hometown Heroes program so families can post banners in the city honoring loved ones who are veterans or on active duty. He said the city would also advance the Minority Veterans and Service Members Memorial at Kirk Park, which will celebrate the contributions and sacrifices of minority veterans and service members in Syracuse.
Westside Trail – Syracuse will begin planning and design for a new Westside Trail traveling through Lipe Art Park, over the railroad bridges at Geddes Street, and up to Tipp Hill. Early plans include greenway treatments to the Near Westside neighborhood and to the West Street crosswalk that connects to the Creekwalk.
Community Grid Vision Plan – Syracuse will introduce the Community Grid Vision Plan next month. The plan, developed with input from community stakeholders, examines how the city can enhance the street network today and how city neighborhoods can evolve in the future. Walsh said the “north star” of the vision plan is people and puts the highest priority on pedestrians, bicycles, affordable housing, safe intersections and sidewalks.
Return to City Center
Walsh delivered his 2019 State of the City in the Red House, the first phase of the redevelopment of City Center. At that address, Walsh unveiled the Syracuse Surge, the City’s strategy for inclusive growth in the New Economy. The primary focus of the strategy is preparing people for careers in the new tech driven economy. Involving businesses, non-profits and all levels of government, the Syracuse Surge includes comprehensive workforce programs in digital skills, mathematics and advanced manufacturing. It also created the Southside Campus for the New Economy on the southern edge of downtown Syracuse, which features the new Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math (STEAM) High School now underway at the vacant Central Tech High School.